This week I spent some email time with Arlie Adlington, a producer in London with a wide and interesting portfolio, who is also part of the steering group for a recently launched accessibility and diversity initiative for the audio industry here.
Arlie wrote about moving into audio after a career in another industry, working on that work-life balance we all talk about, and starting out with Harry Potter.
Hot Pod: What do you do?
Arlie Adlington: I’m a freelancer producer, and right now I’m mostly working on a branded podcast for a travel company. It’s been fun because I got to visit a few places in Europe that I’d never been to, plus I’m extremely optimistic about the chances I’ll be able to do a lot of the editing while sitting in my garden during May and June.
In my spare time, I’m part of a group of volunteers working to set up a new audio producer fellowship in the UK, called Multitrack 2019. This will be the pilot year and the fellowship aims to offer two months of paid work, training and networking to up and coming producers who are struggling to get a break into the industry. We’re really hoping it’ll be a good opportunity for the people who get to do it.
I’m also thinking a lot about work-life balance and how it’d be nice to have some. I’m planning a holiday and putting some time aside to work on ideas for stuff I’d like to make and pitch.
HP: How did you get here?
Adlington: I spent most of my 20s working in marketing and not feeling very inspired by it. Then in 2016, my friend CJ and I started a podcast about Harry Potter called The Boy Who Hasn’t Lived, and I realised all I wanted to do all day was make audio things. So I started trying to work out how I could make that happen. I ended up doing an MA in radio, and then started freelancing when I finished last summer.
I think I’ve been really lucky because I’ve had the chance to do lots of things I’ve really loved, and I kind of feel like my dreams have come true. My favourite thing is that I got to co-produce a podcast called NB for BBC Sounds, with Caitlin Benedict (a badass radio producer at the BBC). It’s all about non-binary gender identity, and it ticked so many exciting boxes for me – 1) make audio things all day; 2) work in a very collaborative, creative environment; 3) make joyful queer content that fellow trans people actually enjoy listening to.
In terms of where I’d like my career to go… I’m hoping the second half of 2019 will include getting to make some things I’ve pitched. Also, I really like helping total beginners learn to make creative audio things, so I’m hoping there could be more of that in my future.
HP: What does a career mean to you?
Adlington: When I didn’t care for my job, it just meant “the thing I do so I can pay my rent and buy pizzas.” Now I think I can see my career as something I can draw meaningful life-satisfaction-feelings from. I always hoped I might be able to have a job that gives me that, so it’s really cool. It also makes me feel weirdly pressurised, because now I have discovered the joy of really liking my job, I never want to lose it. But that’s quite a nice place to be, so I’m not complaining.
HP: What did you want to do when you were growing up?
Adlington: I remember wanting to be an archaeologist for ages.
HP: What are you listening to right now?
Adlington: I really, really like The Cut On Tuesdays. I’m listening to the podcast Tell Them, I Am, which is releasing one episode a day during Ramadan. My usual stance on daily podcasts is that they come out too often, but this one is a real joy and I don’t feel like it’s hassling me. Also my friend Ari Mejia (who’s a producer in Chicago) sends me links to her audio experiments on SoundCloud, and TBH that is the thing giving me the most inspiration right now.
HP: What’s the most unusual thing working in audio has lead you to?
Adlington: Probably recording a podcast episode in a toilet. It was quite cramped in there. I had to make the ultimate sacrifice and sit on the floor.
Find more of Arlie’s work on his website, or follow him on Twitter.